How to Network With Busy People – Part 2

This is a continuation of the “How to Network With Busy People” series. The first post in the series can be found here.

Continuing on with our tips…

Don’t trigger a pattern match.

Don’t send a busy person any communication that fits the pattern of what they’ve seen hundreds of times before, or your message will simply be processed as routine and unimportant.

I understand that your message is very important to you. I know you may be reaching out in a heartfelt way. But you should know that your message probably isn’t being received the way you intended.

When you never get a “thank you” and someone sends you one, it’s a treat… a nice gift.

But when it happens a dozen times a day, 365 days a year, for years on end, well… can you see that your attitude might shift a bit?

If you’re on the receiving end of that, you may begin feeling, “Ok, enough with the appreciation already. It’s nice and all, but I don’t really need to be told how much I’m appreciated 10,000 more times.”

This isn’t a posture of being ungrateful or uncaring. It’s simply a consequence of being overwhelmed with too much incoming communication. Too much of a good thing can actually become a bad thing.

Busy people, especially celebrities, get bombarded with communication overload. Even the heartfelt messages eventually become routine. When anything happens too often, it becomes very difficult to receive it with much enthusiasm.

Here are some of the most common email patterns I’ve seen hundreds, sometimes thousands, of times before:

Praise – Thank you for… I love your site/article because…

Criticism – I don’t like… You suck because…

Suggestions – Check out this book/article/video/etc. You will love it because…

Advice requests – Here’s my situation… What do you think I should do about it?

Promotional requests – Will you link to my website/article? Will you help me promote…?

If you want to see detailed templates for a couple patterns I noticed, check out the article My Favorite Feedback. I wrote that in Nov 2005, when I’d been blogging for only about a year and my web traffic was much lower. Needless to say, much of the feedback I receive still fits that same pattern. There’s just a lot more of it.

When I’m hanging out with other authors or speakers, sometimes I’ll ask them about the feedback patterns they’ve noticed. They’re always able to rattle off several of them. Their patterns are essentially the same as mine. But it’s very hard for them to remember any particular instances of those patterned messages. They only recall the really unusual specific cases – the ones that stand out from the crowd.

This is rooted in how our brains work. We remember the exceptional. But with routine and repeated events, we store general patterns and lose the details. You probably can’t remember much at all that happened on your most routine days. But you’ll remember the exceptional days.

Again, look at this from the perspective of the busy person. Your heartfelt feedback may be very important to you, but if it fits the pattern of something the other person has seen thousands of times already, they probably won’t receive it with the same level of enthusiasm.

If you communicate with a busy person in the same way everyone else does, you probably won’t get a personal reply. You’re more likely to get no response or a template response. Your message will be processed. No real connection is going to be made.

Suppose you see a popular celebrity sitting in a restaurant. If you approach them in a way they’re seen before, you’ll very likely get an inauthentic response — usually aloofness or feigned interest. Realize that if you praise them, criticize them, act star-struck, ask them questions, or ask for advice, you’re triggering well-established patterns, and you’ll be triggering the person’s subconscious patterned response. You’re establishing yourself as one of the countless generic minions, and they probably won’t remember you. Even if they enjoy your attention, you’ve done nothing to build a connection. A week later they may not even remember that they talked to you.

Human memory is tailored to remember salient experiences, not routine happenings.

If you want your communication to be processed mechanically instead of receiving an authentic reply, like if you just need some basic information and that’s it, then it’s okay to communicate in a generic way. In that case, the more generic, the better. Make it easy for the other person to pattern match and process your communiqué.

However, if you’re interested in creating an authentic connection with a busy person, then it’s suicide to do what everyone else does. A routine approach will only trigger the other person’s scripts.

I know it may seem like your attempt at communication will be unique simply because you’re a unique individual. Your stories, questions, and feedback may indeed be original. But all that’s necessary to trigger a filter is for you to do something that fits under a very broad umbrella, such as praising, criticizing, questioning, suggesting, promoting, etc. If you trigger any single filter, you’ll be processed generically.

I realize this may be a hard pill to swallow. I’m not making this up though, and I’m not trying to be harsh – just honest. If you give it some thought, this does make sense, doesn’t it?

To be continued…